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Hey, Matt:

What gives with the much vaunted "World Class" city's Third World streets? It seems that every project the city manages to poop out winds up in short order looking like the hallway runner rug after the dog rounded the corner chasing the cat into the kitchen. Can anyone clue the city streets folks into the fact that it is not a good idea to recycle leftover saltwater taffy from the Del Mar Fair into a road surface? Those of us driving SUVs might not mind doing the street-mogul slalom, but my Ferrari doesn't take to catching air so well.

-- Stan Telican, North Park

Hey, Stan, get out of the nabe once in a while. Your beloved North Park is hardly the only place with streets like a Mongolian goat trail. And if they'd been paved with the alternative, concrete, you'd be screaming even louder. Unfortunately, one of the advantages of asphalt over concrete is that it is flexible. When it's fresh, it can bend with the stresses of traffic and temperature. If it cracks, it's easier to repair. On the other hand, asphalt eventually dries out and crumbles. Repairs, say, after a water-main break, are never as seamless as the original, which leaves more weak spots in the road. Cars continually bouncing over a small mogul will displace the asphalt and turn it into a big mogul, the same way a dirt road develops into a washboard road. So, if we just neglect an asphalt road long enough, we end up with the tarmac equivalent of an unmade bed. At that point, there's nothing to do but remove all the old road surface and start over again. But asphalt is still more practical and economical than concrete, as long as the asphalt binder is concocted to match traffic and climate conditions. So until the city shakes loose some infrastructure dollars, I guess it's time to retire the Stanmobile to the front yard as a geranium planter. Then take the bus to one of the stadiums to watch your tax dollars in action.

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